AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Amherst’s Town Council has proposed a new net-zero elementary school for grades Kindergarten through 5th grade, on the Fort River site. It would replace Wildwood and Fort River Elementary Schools.

Councilors gathered Wednesday at the Bangs Community Center to discuss how this would save money on administration, teachers, and energy. The proposed three-story building is expected to be completed by the fall of 2026 and reach a capacity of 575 students.

However, taxpayers will have to decide first if building one school is better than renovating the existing Crocker Farm and Wildwood Elementary Schools in the town. Which would be a $40 million investment per school to make them ADA-accessible and a proper learning environment.

A Town Councilor told 22News that building a new school may be the way to go.”It’s $1.07 for every thousand dollars on average that you presently have on the assessment of your home,” said Lynn Griesemer, President of Amherst Town Council. “It’s a big ask for taxpayers but it is the right decision educationally and financially for the town. If we don’t do this we are going to be spending a lot of money with no grant help from the state.”

Approval of a town-wide referendum on the tax increase is scheduled for May 2.